Monthly Archives: December 2007

Ozzyform band degeneration

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has just published its traditional Christmas article which covers the lesser known diseases of popular culture. This year, the article tackles the scourge of cacophonopathology, a dreadful affliction caused by a disturbing reaction to music. It notes that a particular form of the disorder affects fans of heavy metal: A […]

How do psychologists think?

I believe that the important thing about psychology is the habits of thought it teaches you, not the collection of facts you might learn. I teach on the psychology degree at the University of Sheffield and, sure, facts are important here — facts about experiments, about the theories which prompted them and about the conclusions […]

Daily Express cures Alzheimer’s

The front page of the today’s Daily Express, a UK national newspaper, has one of the worst neuroscience stories I have a read in a very long time. It’s actually on a valuable research project being run by an established team of researchers and involves giving people with Alzheimer’s disease a small digital camera to […]

Mind and brain science storms NYT’s ‘Year in Ideas’

The New York Times seems to have been publishing loads of mind and brain articles recently and their end of 2007 round-up of ‘hot ideas’ contains no less than 11 articles on developments in psychology and neuroscience – including everything from Alzheimer’s to Zygotes (via Lap Dancing). I was alerted to the series by Matthew […]

Multicoloured USB brain tee

One of the best brain t-shirts to come along in a very long time has just arrived, and, unfortunately, it sold out within days. At least, if you’re after a male sizes that is. Luckily, there are still plenty in female sizes left. It’s a beautiful multi-coloured brain where the brain stem changes in a […]

The Truth About Female Desire available online

Finally, one of the best TV series on the psychology, biology and neuroscience of female sexuality is available online as a torrent. The Truth About Female Desire was a four part UK television series broadcast in 2005 which was a collaboration between the respected sex research centre The Kinsey Institute, London’s Brunel University and Channel […]

Gathering data for thought experiments

The Idea Lab section of The New York Times has an article on experimental philosophy – a new branch of philosophy where, for example, answers to philosophical thought experiments are tested on members of the public to find the most common answers and possible contradictions in everyday reasoning. But now a restive contingent of our […]

Think gum

Think Gum is a chewing gum that apparently contains a number of ‘brain boosting’ ingredients, although is mainly notable for its high caffeine content. As well as caffeine, it contains ginkgo biloba and bacopa monnieri, two herbal supplements which some preliminary studies have found increase memory and concentration. It’s hard to say whether these have […]

The tickbox revolution in intensive care

The New Yorker has a completely gripping article on intensive care medicine that while fascinating in its own right, is also interesting as it contains an amazing account of a how a three year old girl was resuscitated and recovered brain function after near drowning, and stresses the importance of behavioural interventions in high-tech medicine. […]

2007-12-07 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Chewing gum and context-dependent memory: The independent roles of chewing gum and mint flavour. A paper currently ‘in press’ for the British Journal of Psychology. Sharp Brains has an interview with Prof Robert Emmons, a psychologist who studies gratitude. In light of the recent […]

Which brain hemisphere falls asleep first?

The abstract of a fascinating 1995 review paper by Maria Casagrande and colleagues which gathered experimental data together to try and work out which of the brain’s cortical hemispheres falls asleep first. It turns out, it’s the left. Which hemisphere falls asleep first? Neuropsychologia, 33(7), 815-22. Casagrande M, Violani C, De Gennaro L, Braibanti P, […]

Almost perfect

The New York Times has a short article on mental health and perfectionism, the tendency to measure success and self-worth by the completion of often unrealistic goals. Over the last two decades this concept is being increasingly seen as a core component in some types of types of depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive and eating disorders. […]

Fighting over font-change semantics

Philosopher Patricia Churchland wrote a damning review of Steven Pinker’s new book, ‘The Stuff of Thought’, for Nature and it’s caused a bit of a rumble. One particular highlight was that she described a theory from Pinker’s book, that suggests that language and thought can refer to meaning in a similar way, as: …about as […]

Sleeping and dreaming

London’s newest science museum, the Wellcome Collection, has just kicked off what looks to be a fantastic exhibition on the art and science of sleeping and dreaming. It runs until March 2008 and aims to illustrate how we’ve understood sleep through the ages, as well as the contemporary science of this still mysterious state. If […]

Pavlov and Brian Wilson redux

Ivan Pavlov and Brian Wilson – together at last! This rather unlikely combination seemed to spark a bit of interest, so here is a brief collection of your contributions. Thanks to Lloyd for sending in one of Mark Stivers’ hilarious cartoons that gives an interesting twist on Pavlov’s experiments. Click for the larger version. Jesse […]

Ring a bell and I’ll salivate

A funny clip from That 70s Show where Michael provides a unique interpretation of Pavlov’s work on classical conditioning in an attempt to help Eric with his women problems. This is not the first time that Pavlov has been invoked as a metaphor in popular culture. The Barenaked Ladies track, ‘Brian Wilson’, has the following […]


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